The guilt and horror of learning my little girl’s ‘cleaning job’ was cash for being abused: Mother of victim whose testimony brought down Ghislaine Maxwell asks once more the questions that have haunted her for a long time
Dorothy smiles fondly at the photograph of her daughter, Carolyn. The image radiates innocence, joy and hope — and she treasures it as a reminder of happier times.
The picture was taken in New York about 25 years ago, on the day of Carolyn’s First Communion, aged eight and wearing the traditional white dress and veil.
‘She was so excited,’ remembers Dorothy. ‘Carolyn went to a Catholic school and we went to church every Sunday. We had a big Communion Party, a big celebration.’
She was so pretty, adds her mother proudly, that she had already competed in a string of beauty pageants. ‘My daughter was beautiful. She was gorgeous. She won trophies, she had ribbons.’
Carolyn, pictured at her confirmation aged 8, one of the Maxwell victims who gave evidence at the trial in New York
Dorothy, The mother of Carolyn, one of the Maxwell victims who gave evidence against her, who has spoken exclusively about how the lives of her entire family were destroyed by the abuse she suffered at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell
Dorothy, mother of ‘Carolyn’ (pictured in court) spoke of her daughter’s abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein
Carolyn became a human sex toy, her trust and body violated in the most appalling ways imaginable by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured together)
But within six years of that photograph being taken, Carolyn — who is going by only her first name instead of a pseudonym — had become a human sex toy, her trust and body violated in the most appalling ways imaginable by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, as they drew her in to their sick ‘pyramid scheme of abuse’.
Dorothy, then a hard-working single mother of three who had moved her family from New York to Florida, thought her 14-year-old daughter was topping up her pocket money by cleaning a house for a wealthy man who lived in a mansion in Palm Beach.
In reality, Carolyn was being paid $300 (£220) a time to give Epstein ‘sexualised’ massages, while similar sums were offered to her to find other underage girls for the same purpose.
Court Evidence pics of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein including her giving his a foot massage against the breasts on a private plane
Today, in the aftermath of the Maxwell trial, Dorothy is once more asking questions that have haunted her for a long time. How could she not have known that her teenage daughter was being subjected to such degradation over four years?
‘It makes me feel horrible. It makes me ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘ she says. ‘Could I not have protected her better?’
It is the natural reaction of any parent who feels they’ve let down their child. Dorothy and Carolyn were close and the family was tight-knit — until Carolyn fell victim to Epstein and Maxwell.
Maxwell was a long-time consort of Jeffrey Epstein (pictured together in 2005) and an alleged procurer of victims in his underage sex trafficking ring
More than two decades on, 34-year-old Carolyn’s ordeal has left her addicted to drugs and suffering mental health problems. The horror of her time in Epstein’s ‘House of Sin’ — which she had tried to bury — has been re-awakened by the trial in which she testified against the British ex-socialite.
Carolyn’s evidence underpinned four of the six charges against Maxwell, putting enormous pressure on her as a crucial prosecution witness. It is a responsibility that she has found almost impossible to bear, her mother says.
Her daughter feels ‘ashamed’ of what she did as a teenager, Dorothy says, and for the past six months has been too traumatised to look after her own children aged 17, eight, seven and four. That burden now rests with her 60-year-old mother who in June moved into Carolyn’s home in Florida. Carolyn has moved out indefinitely.
It is at Carolyn’s large detached home on a leafy estate — and as two granddaughters played in a pool in the garden — that I speak to Dorothy for several hours about the impact of the Epstein/Maxwell case. She describes the pain and tears and disruption that a child’s experience of sexual exploitation can cause many years later as a ‘spiral of destruction’.
It is a devastating story of how a pretty, happy-go-lucky girl from a working-class family ended up the plaything of a wealthy, sex-obsessed couple, and how, amid claims of a cover-up, the U.S. justice system failed her and other victims.
Dorothy is a no-nonsense New Yorker who says it as she sees it. She’d been due to give evidence for the prosecution at Maxwell’s trial (pictured) but, having travelled to New York, was told at the last minute she wasn’t needed.
Dorothy is a no-nonsense New Yorker who says it as she sees it. She’d been due to give evidence for the prosecution at Maxwell’s trial but, having travelled to New York, was told at the last minute she wasn’t needed.
She remains furious over the wasted journey, showing me an expletive-filled series of texts she sent to prosecutors after the snub. She says they warned her not to speak out but ‘I’ve got a mouth and someone’s gonna hear my story real loud’.
We meet days after Carolyn has testified in the New York court against Maxwell. She told jurors that when she was 14 Maxwell had groped her breasts and told her she had ‘a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends’.
Maxwell frequently summoned her for sex with Epstein, she said, and claimed that she had been recruited for the abuse by her then friend Virginia Roberts (now Virginia Roberts Giuffre) — the woman who has accused Prince Andrew of rape, which he strenuously denies.
Between the ages of 14 and 18, Carolyn said, she went to multi-millionaire Epstein’s mansion hundreds of times before she became ‘too old’ for his tastes. She added that it was often Maxwell who paid her for the massages.
In haunting testimony, she described to the jury how after dropping out of school she moved with her mother and siblings to Florida.
The Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the bare waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts. In the background, Ghislaine Maxwell. Ms Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with the royal
Her mother [Dorothy] had drink and drug problems of her own, she claimed — although Dorothy disputes this. Carolyn told the court her grandfather had abused her from the age of four.
Dorothy, who is a certified nursing assistant, shows me photographs of the pretty teenager from around the time she was first taken up by Epstein and Maxwell.
At 14, she says, her daughter’s appearance and behaviour began to change and she started to distance herself from her mother.
Then Dorothy started getting calls on her mobile phone from a woman asking where Carolyn was because she had ‘an appointment’ to keep at Epstein’s house.
She shows me Maxwell’s number, logged under ‘Guisella’ and Epstein’s under ‘Jef [sic] Epstein’ on her phone. She also has Virginia Roberts’s old number in her contacts list.
‘I clearly remember Guisella calling me and she was furious that my daughter didn’t make her appointment,’ says Dorothy. ‘Guisella was very nasty.’
Dorothy noticed that Carolyn had started dressing more provocatively.
She found age-inappropriate ‘panties’ in the laundry and challenged her daughter about them, only to be told: ‘Oh, Mom. Don’t worry about it. They [belong to] my friends.’
Dorothy was unaware her daughter, still underage, was being sent erotic lingerie from Epstein’s office in New York.
‘Then she would come home with $100 bills and her attitude started changing, and I guess that’s when all the drugs came into play. All of a sudden Carolyn started shutting down. [She was] cutting herself really bad and I couldn’t figure out why.
‘I noticed she started wearing more make-up. And her clothes started changing. And I’m like: ‘Carolyn, what’s going on here? You’re looking pretty provocative for a girl your age, you know?’ It kind of bothered me.’
As Carolyn fell further under the control of Maxwell and Epstein, she started coming home later at night. ‘Sometimes she didn’t come home at all,’ says Dorothy. ‘She was always smelling of perfume [but] I could smell alcohol on her, too.’
Witness ‘Carolyn’ answers question from defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the Jeffrey Epstein associate found guilty in her sex abuse case
On one occasion, Epstein called Dorothy, asking after her daughter. Now she looks back with incredulity that he and Maxwell had the audacity to contact the mother of the girl they were abusing.
During a lengthy cross-examination, Maxwell’s attorneys repeatedly accused Carolyn of inconsistencies between the 2007 account she gave to the FBI, during its first investigation into Epstein, and her testimony today.
They questioned why she failed to include Maxwell’s role in earlier civil lawsuits against Epstein, suggesting there was a financial incentive behind her decision to testify at her trial. (In 2020, Carolyn had submitted a claim to a compensation programme funded by Epstein’s estate and received an award of $2.8 million or £2.1 million.)
It was after that first FBI investigation, which in 2008 resulted in Epstein serving 13 months in jail for soliciting sex from girls as young as 14, that Carolyn started to reveal what had really happened.
Dorothy explains: ‘She says ‘Mom, I did things I didn’t think you would be proud of me for and I don’t want to discuss it. It’s just not nice. And you would hate me.’
And I’m like, ‘Carolyn, but what could be so bad? I thought you were cleaning houses?’ She goes, ‘Mom, it was more than that . . . I had to give massages.’ That’s all she would tell me and that she had to bring girls with her. I guess she was too ashamed to tell me the whole truth.’
She shows me ‘happy’ pictures of Carolyn and her young family — her three younger children are from her marriage of 11 years — before the FBI came to see her in June last year, urging her to be a witness against Maxwell.
The nightmare memories returned. ‘She said, ‘I can’t take it. I can’t do it’,’ says Dorothy. ‘She was doing fabulous with her kids, with her husband. And then all of a sudden, it just cracked up.
They [the FBI] were pushing her to go to this trial.’ In court, Carolyn’s was perhaps the most harrowing of the victim testimonies. Answering one question, she said: ‘The only thing Ms Maxwell was involved in was fondling and touching my breasts and my buttocks, and for that, my soul is broken and so is my heart.’
Former Sunday school teacher Dorothy says: ‘My daughter suffers nightmares. She’s on medication. She’s got fears that her kids are going to be kidnapped and moles-ted . . . She’s devastated and all she does is cry.’
A few days after Carolyn gave evidence, she sent her mother a YouTube video featuring a song called I Don’t Feel Any More.
Dorothy plays it to me and, for the first time in our interview, she weeps as she listens to the lyrics: ‘I have always felt like I don’t belong here, it’s been a long year, it’s been a long life.’
Tears fill Dorothy’s eyes as she reflects on her daughter’s mental state.
‘Nobody knows how deep this goes,’ she says. ‘I don’t whether she is going to be alive from one day to another.’